The clinical impact of implantable loop recorders in patients with syncope

Eur Heart J. 2006 Feb;27(3):351-6. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehi602. Epub 2005 Nov 28.


Aims: Implantable loop recorders (ILR) provide an opportunity to record ECG data from a spontaneous syncopal event. We conducted a randomized study to investigate the impact of the Reveal Plus ILR on an unselected population of patients with recurrent syncope. Initial follow-up (at least 6 months) did not demonstrate a reduction in syncopal events or an improvement in quality of life. We report the planned extension of follow-up to 18 months.

Methods and results: All patients presenting acutely with recurrent unexplained syncope over a 16-month period, following a basic clinical work-up, were randomized to receive the ILR or conventional investigation and management. A total of 421 patients presented, 201 were eligible, median age 74, (IQ range 61-81) 54% female, with median syncopes 3 (IQ range 2-6). Median follow-up 17 months (IQ range 9-23). 42 (43%) of ILR patients and 8 (6%) of conventional patients received an ECG diagnosis (hazard ratio 6.53, 95% CI 3.73-11.4, P<0.001). Time to second syncope was significantly longer for ILR patients, although of borderline significance (P=0.04). A greater variety of diagnoses and treatments were seen in ILR patients. ILR patients had fewer post-randomization investigations and fewer days in hospital; however, cost savings were not statistically significant. There was improved quality of life in the ILR group (visual analogue scales, P=0.03) for general wellbeing. Overall mortality was 12% with no difference between the two groups.

Conclusion: Investigation by the ILR significantly increases the diagnostic rate and ECG directed treatments in a typical unselected syncopal population. Long-term follow-up has demonstrated a significant subsequent reduction in syncopal events with improved quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory / economics
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory / instrumentation*
  • Electrodes
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Quality of Life
  • Recurrence
  • Syncope / diagnosis*
  • Syncope / economics
  • Syncope / therapy
  • Time Factors